International players are often the “mystery men” of the NBA draft — even though most international players that enter the draft have been playing high-level professional basketball in their own countries, the international game is more different from the NBA game than college basketball is, and there’s not as much data on how international players’ games translate to the NBA as there is on college players’ games.
Because of that, teams often have to rely on things like one-on-one workouts to get the looks they want at international prospects. at a recent Adidas eurocamp event, teams got to take a close look at several top prospects, namely Bismack Biyombo and Donatas Montejunas. According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford (insider required), neither player looked that impressive in their workout:
Bismack Biyombo was the main attraction at this year’s Eurocamp. On the court, he disappointed. Biyombo decided to skip the game and drill portion of the camp, and instead did a one-on-none workout in front of 100 or so NBA scouts and GMs.
While Biyombo is a fantastic athlete, and has a crazy 7-foot-6 wingspan, an NBA body and speed … these sort of workouts aren’t ideal for him. Biyombo looked understandably nervous and it seemed to affect his game. Much of the workout focused on his perimeter skills — a major weakness of Biyombo. He missed roughly 75 to 80 percent of the shots he took in this portion of the workout…
…As one GM summed it up, “Bismack Biyombo played one-against-none today … and he lost.”
Motiejunas also did the classic one-on-none workout and he too failed to beat the proverbial chair that was guarding him. Much like Biyombo, the workout, inexplicably, focused on areas where Motiejunas isn’t particularly strong. If an NBA team had run the workout, I understand why they’d try to test his weaknesses. But having his own agent set up the workout, you’d think they’d try to highlight his strengths.
Motiejunas too had a perimeter-oriented workout and like Biyombo, he missed plenty of shots. He had a number of air balls, got winded at several points and didn’t always seem engaged.
As Ford notes, the poor workout will hurt Motiejunas’ stock more than it will hurt Biyombo’s. Everyone knows that Biyombo is an extremely gifted athlete, rebounder, and shot-blocker with a very raw offensive game, and the team that picks Biyombo won’t expect him to be an offensive threat right away, especially not from the perimeter.
Motiejunas, on the other hand, could see his stock fall after this workout. There are questions about his athletic ability and motor, and his skills are his calling card. He scored 12.8 points per game in 25.6 minutes per game in the Italian league last season, and his main strengths are his ability to score the ball with nice touch in the post and play the pick-and-pop game — he actually shot more than one three-pointer every game in the Italian league, and made more than 40% of his attempts.
The NBA is no longer a place where size and post moves alone are enough to make you an effective frontcourt player — if a player doesn’t have the athleticism to control the paint defensively, he needs to be able to stretch the defense to make up for it. If Montiejunas doesn’t impress with his athleticism or his skill level, he could see his stock fall fairly quickly.